From mass to meaningful: 5 tourism trends you need to know

Tickets are flying over the counter again and providers are getting ready for a busier-than-busy season: the tourism industry is back in business. That the industry hasn’t actually been sitting back relaxing was clear to see during the bustling Internationale Tourismusbörse (ITB) in Berlin. Our Leisure and Tourism lecturer Christiaan van der Ham camped up for five days with our German neighbours and shares his observations. These are the 5 biggest trends in tourism. 

1. From mass to meaningful: craving authentic experiences

“Whereas a consumer might before have booked a run-of-the-mill package holiday through the cheapest agency, they’re now looking for unique and authentic experiences. The industry’s downtime has given it and its travellers time to reflect. What do they really see as important? For many tourists, it’s creating memories, having an experience that goes beyond visiting hotspots and posting a photo on social media. We want to be where the locals are and drink coffee in undiscovered cafes. And the experience is more than just the accommodation. It’s increasingly important for a supplier to work with partners in the area and, together, create the ultimate authentic experience. 

2. From exceptional to common practice: the importance of sustainable travel

Sustainability is and continues to be a priority for tour operators, airlines and accommodation. We’re frantically looking for different ways of travelling that match our desire for a better and more sustainable world. So we more often take the train to our destination and we’re more likely to choose accommodation that carries a ‘sustainable’ label. The industry can develop this more in the coming years by looking into how they can help tourists make environmentally conscious choices, for instance by reducing the choice on a buffet, making electric bikes available for use and offering excursions that respect flora and fauna.   

3. From number to VIP: personalization as the key to success

Travelling is no longer a product we choose in a travel brochure but a unique, personal experience that we, if possible, like to put together ourselves. And if we’re no longer part of the mass, then personal attention plays an increasingly important role. For the industry, the trick is to create personalisation across the board so as to encourage brand loyalty and spontaneous ambassadorship. It all starts with the orientation phase and the excited anticipation of the trip and it doesn’t end until the guest is settled back on their couch at home. Take, for instance, personal emails (have you packed your bags yet?), tips for when you get to your destination and being able to connect your own phone to the television in your hotel room, holiday home or on the plane. 

4. Digitalization and AI: opportunity or necessity?

ICT and tourism: a match made in heaven and essential for coping with the flood of tourists that is expected to come. The stop the industry went through in the past few years has led us to now seeing a huge increase in travel. Operators, companies and accommodation can only keep up with this increasing demand if the underlying systems are up to par. Artificial intelligence is a nice-to-have at the moment and offers creative opportunities for the industry. With inflation and high prices possibly meaning many households opt for destinations closer to home, how amazing would it be if you could use AI to visit the pyramids in Egypt after all?” 

5. Relax and heal: travel as medication 

“From yoga retreats in Nepal and silent mediation in the Alps to cosmetic trips to Turkey and bathing in a volcano mud bath in Colombia, we’re using our travels more and more often as a way of working on our mental and physical wellbeing. It’s no surprise as since the corona pandemic we see tourists are placing more and more value on health and vitality. And the journey there and the experience itself matter too. Enough reason therefore for the industry to really put health tourism on the map and cater for different target groups and needs as well as look for collaboration and support from local governments. Joint initiatives can then create a healthy industry and population.”  

Bonus tip: the tourism industry is growing and really needs talented people. If you’d like to work in the industry, then check out our leisure and tourism programmes